Improv Challenge: Lemon and Sour Cream Donuts


There's something about the smell of lemons that makes me happy. I absolutely love to zest or juice lemons because even after washing my hands, that lovely lemon smell remains. I'm really curious as to why the don't sell lemon scented candles. Or at least any that I've found. I'm sure I'm not the only person in the world who loves that lemony smell.

For January's Improv Challenge our ingredients were lemons and sour cream. Ironically, as much as I love to cook and bake, my favorite part of the Improv Challenge is finding a recipe. There are about 60 of us that participate and there aren't any guidelines on where we can search, so its pretty likely that there will be repeat recipes. But I take the word Challenge very seriously. Instead of just picking one the first results that come up after searching "lemon and sour cream recipe" I break the challenge into two parts. One is finding a recipe that I don't expect anyone else to make. The second part is to (obviously) successfully make the recipe.

While I realize its January and most people are still trying to eat healthy, I couldn't pass up an opportunity to make donuts. I've never made donuts before and I've been debating on purchasing a donut pan from Amazon with my gift cards so I can bake donuts. Because really, if you can shave some calories off something as delicious as a donut by baking it instead of frying it, you'd do it too, right?

Lemon and Sour Cream Donuts
Adapted from: Tartelette
Yield: 20+ donuts
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    • zest and juice of one lemon
    • 1/2 cup sour cream
    • 1/2 cup sugar
    • 2 eggs
    • 1 tbs. olive oil
    • 1 cup cake flour
    • 1 cup all purpose flour
    • 2 tsp. baking powder
    • pinch of salt
    • 1 cup vegetable or canola oil 

    Glaze Ingredients:
    • 3/4 cup powdered sugar
    • 2-3 tbs. milk
    • 1 tsp. lemon juice
    • 1/2 tsp. lemon zest

1. In a medium bowl, whisk together the zest and juice of the lemon, sour cream, sugar, eggs and olive oil until smooth.
2. In another medium sized bowl, combine the flours, baking powder and salt. Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients and stir until smooth with a spatula.
3. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least one hour.
4. Place a wire cooling rack on top of a baking sheet. Top the rack with a layer of paper towels.
5. Bring the oil to 325 in a Dutch oven. Scoop 1/4 cup fulls of the batter into the oil. Cook in batches of 4-5 for 5-6 minutes each or until lightly golden.
6. Transfer the donuts to the paper towel lined cooling rack and repeat with remaining batter.
7. In a small bowl, combine the powdered sugar, milk, lemon juice and zest together until a glaze forms. Make adjustments to each ingredient until you reach the desired consistency.
8. Once donuts have cooled slightly, drizzle glaze over donuts and serve immediately.

These were pretty tasty, but I felt like the lemon flavor should have come through more. I'm not sure if its the type of oil I used or what, but I wouldn't mind messing with the recipe a bit to make some adjustments.


  1. With or without the glaze those sound like divine little bite-sized balls of goodness!

    1. They were rather tasty. :) Now I'm thinking about making a second batch...

  2. I made these too! I ended up using Meyer lemons and then squeezed some extra juice on top and I think that really brought out the extras lemon flavor it needed. The doughnut pan idea is awesome, I think if I decide to make more doughnuts, I will get one because I am not a fan of deep frying either!

    1. Great minds think alike. :) I didn't even think of squeezing lemon juice over them!

  3. I love the idea of a lemon infused donut. If I can ever overcome my fear of frying and get brave enough to make donuts, these are on my list.

    1. Electric stove. It's what finally convinced me it was safe to fry something. :)

  4. I am totally with you on the scent of lemon after grating! Mmmmm.. Found your blog through the Improv Challenge and I am following you! Lovely place you have here :)

  5. MMM! Healthy eating? No way. I want one right now. Found you through the Improv Challenge. Thanks for sharing your recipe with us!

  6. Oh my these look so very delicious.

    The perfect thing for an afternoon treat, or breakfast, right after dinner. I guess really just about any time.

  7. How cool! I'd never have thought of donuts, and I just know my citrus-addicted wife would devour these. Great use of the challenge ingredients :)

  8. I want one of the donuts NOW! What a wonderful combo of ingredients. They look comforting but fresh all at the same time. Yum.

  9. Oh, wow ~ look at the glaze on these delicious looking donuts! They look fabulous! Nice job with your recipe :)

    Kindly, Lorraine

  10. Oh my, these look wonderful! Can't beat homemade donuts! Stopping by from the Challenge--having a lot of fun checking out all the great recipes!

  11. Nothing better than homemade donuts--yum! Stopping by from the Challenge!

  12. I'm a freak about the smell of lemons, too! I just about dab a little behind my ears when I use it! These donuts look scrumptious...just what I need to get me out of the winter doldrums! : )

  13. Oh my goodness, I could develop an addiction to these babies! I'm pinning these for sure.

  14. YUM, I've never made doughnuts but these make me want to give it a try. Great looking recipe.

  15. The only time I deep fry anything is when I make donuts. I am stuck in a maple bar rut, so maybe next time the kids clamor for donuts, I will try a lemony version like this. They sound delicious!

  16. Fabulous looking doughnuts! I never thought about lemon doughnuts, and now I want some. Great pick!

  17. Oh, my gosh, I'm so hungry just looking at your homemade doughnuts!!! Great idea for the Improv challenge....mmmmmm.

  18. Hello from the ICC! Yum, YUm, YUM!!! I wish there was a plate of them in front of me right now :)


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